Taking photos or videos

Whenever a person can be directly or indirectly identified in a picture or a film, the image or images are considered to be personal data. As a result, they are subject to laws and regulations protecting privacy.

Please note that this can even apply when a person does not appear clearly, but could be identified by other elements in the picture, such as friends and family, or the surroundings – for example, a workplace or school. Even a detail like a tattoo could be considered as identifying, if it could be related easily to the person who wears it.

As long as pictures are taken but remain in the private sphere (in other words, they are not disclosed publicly), people appearing in the picture cannot object to the taking of the photo or video. But if the pictures are taken for the purpose of sharing them, in whatever way, then several rules apply. Some follow legal regulations, others are moral obligations. The exact situation depends on the country but, in general, the main rules to keep in mind are the following:

Consent must be obtained from people who will appear in the films or photos – before taking pictures or filming.

Consent must be explicit, preferably in writing. The person must be told who is taking the picture and for what purpose. They also need to know what media will be used to share it and with whom it will be shared. Lastly, the person to be photographed or videoed needs to know who to turn to if there is a query or problem.

Consent must be had from the parents or legal guardian for minors, but also from the minors themselves, as a moral right and as part of their education.

Remind subjects about consent during filming or photography. Even after consent has been obtained, it is recommended to remind and inform the subjects when the pictures are taken.

Close-up shots should be avoided wherever possible. Preference should be given to group pictures, which make identification more difficult. When it isn’t necessary to have someone’s face in the picture, consider photographing them from the back. Also, avoid captions to photos which identify the subjects.

Remind others of the rules. When organising an activity where others are filming or photographing, consider reminding them of the applicable rules, as part of awareness raising and education.